While I prefer to ride if I can, every so often life conspires to force you underground, and so it was that yesterday I found myself riding the subway. I ride a bike for lots of different reasons, but when I’m in a car or on a train or otherwise subject to delays, spatial constraints, or the whims of others, I realize that one of the main ones is that I’m a control freak. I love the subway, but when you’re used to getting around on a bike, it’s hard to stand there on a platform and come to grips with the fact that your only option is to wait. Sure, when you’re on a bike you do have to deal with the occasional deranged motorist, but when you’re on a train you also have to deal with the occasional deranged passenger. In the former scenario the deranged party is frothing at the mouth because they’re basically trapped in a metal box, whereas in the latter one it’s you who’s trapped in the metal box with the deranged passenger. In statistical terms you’re most likely in more physical danger from the deranged motorist, but some people prefer freedom (or the illusion of it) over safety (or the illusion of it), and I suppose it’s our own relationships with the box that define us as much as anything else.
Anyway, as a control freak cyclist, until recently I could at least count on the fact that once I resigned myself to this mode of travel there wouldn’t be anything to taunt me and make me miss my bike. Oh, sure, maybe there would be someone on the train with a bicycle, but that doesn’t make me miss my own bike, it just makes me relieved not have to deal with having a bicycle on the subway No, what I mean is that you wouldn’t see advertising campaigns for bikes designed specifically to exploit the fact that you’re riding the subway…until now:
Of course advertising a Brompton on the New York City subway makes perfect sense since Bromptons are to trains as gravel bikes are to gravel. Bromptoneers live for that moment they get to collapse their bikes and sashay into the station in the same way gravelistas can’t wait to turn off the main road and hear that soft crunching sound under their overpriced boutique tires. As for the fact that I’ve now mentioned Bromptons twice in as many days, I guess they’re just in the air, like the allergens of spring.
There was one clear upside to taking the train though, which was that I was able to utilize its portaging capabilities:
I’m not saying that stuff isn’t bikeable, but I am saying I wouldn’t have attempted to carry it on my Homer.
Speaking of strapping stuff to your bike, here’s a compelling question:
Hey, I ask myself that same question about pretty much every single bike component made in the last 10-15 years. Then again, what the hell else are you going to strap to these things?
Like people, bikes get exactly what they deserve.
Not only do I puzzle over why people strap “hunks of shite” to their hunks-of-shite bikes, but I also wonder why they subscribe to the New York Times’s “Climate Forward” newsletter:
Clearly designed to whip you into a froth and keep you clicking, it’s as good an example as any of how a manufactured sense of impending doom powers the modern media. I’d compare it to porn, but that’s not fair to porn, since with porn at least there’s a climax, whereas the climate newsletter will keep teasing you without release for at least the next ten thousand years.
Apparently the “Entitled Cyclist” wants you to see how awful driving is and how “pleasant” cycling can be:
Yes, he does have a car himself, but like most male advocates he blames his wife for it, and anyway it runs on artisanal electricity so it doesn’t count:
As for showing how “pleasant” bicycling can be, I’m not so sure about that:
Disclosure: I couldn’t not bring myself to watch the entire video. However, based on what I did watch, no doubt many of those drivers are assholes, and much of the footage is certainly an indictment of the modern American cityscape. At the same time, I also noted a number of mostly benign encounters that appeared to be motivated mostly by the fact that the rider has a camera strapped to his head in order to collect outrage porn.
This is the same force that guides Jeremy Vine, who regularly posts unremarkable footage as though he’d just survived a brush with death;
If you don’t know who Jeremy Vine is, he’s some kind of professional British media person, though as an American I’m only familiar with his prolific bike content, and from what I can tell his true passion seems to be cycling victimhood. Now, anyone who rides a bike has had their share of close calls, but from what I’ve seen of his Twitter, Jeremy Vine seems to have had more than it’s possible to have without actively seeking them out, or else simply inventing them. He also rides a pennyfarthing:
This too appears to be a concerted effort on his part to court disaster:
And apparently he rides it while accompanied by a drone so he can get even more footage of drivers passing him at a safe distance:
It’s true that drivers can be terrible, and street design can be terrible, and that both are often all too easy to ignore until someone opens our eyes, because we simply take it for granted that people “need” cars and assume we’ve got no other choice than to simply deal with it.
But it’s also true that some people would be better off just taking the subway. But then I guess you don’t get to be the star of your own personal reality show. If you carry a heavy load on a bike you can pretend you’re a hero, but on the train you’re just another schmuck with a box of kitty litter.